Mike McKay's Blog
Monday, December 1st, 2014 by Mike McKay
December 1, 2014: The 101 number one song of the day was hated by the lead singer of the group that recorded it– not because he didn’t like the melody but rather because it hit much too close to home.
Dennis Edwards remembers the first time he heard the song, he got terribly upset. Eventually, he grew to love the song but not until it got to number one and won a Grammy to boot. The original problem was a particular lyric: “It was the third of September/That day I’ll always remember/Cause that was the day my daddy died.” As it happened, that was the day Dennis’ father actually did die, although he was a real preacher, not the kind portrayed in the song which reached number one on this week in December, 1972 for the Temptations (Papa Was a Rolling Stone)
Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 by Mike McKay
November 26, 2014: The 101 number one song of the day required spoonfeeding, mothering, big sistering and even reprimanding just to get it recorded. And that’s not all – something else one rarely sees in a recording studio was brought in to finish the job.
Ellie Greenwich was the writer and she found the four girls who made up today’s featured group difficult to work with. Lead singer Mary Weiss was 16 at the time and the microphone in her face inhibited her. She was also quite emotional and she was encouraged to let that emotion flow freely. Listen closely and you will hear her crying as she sings. The song reached number one this week in 1964. Oh – and that thing rarely seen in a recording studio?
It was a great big motorcycle. It’s the Shangri-Las (Leader of the Pack)
Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 by Mike McKay
November 25th, 2014: The 101 # 1 Song of the Day was co written by Elton John’s main collaborator, Bernie Taupin and became the first number one song for a San Francisco band that had been around for over twenty – well sort of.
In the 60’s they recorded under a similar but different name. When they regrouped in the 70s and again in the 80s they “updated” their previous name. When they first heard the song they felt it had been written just for them but it wasn’t. The music was written by Martin Page of the band “Q-Feel” who wrote it for himself but the other band recorded it and took it to number one where it sat on November 25th, 1985 for Jefferson Starship – We Built This City
Monday, November 24th, 2014 by Mike McKay
November 24, 2014: The 101 number one song of the day had an odd journey to the top of the heap and the lead vocalist wasn’t even a member of the band – ever – before or after it became a hit.
It was recorded by a group called Thee Sixpence whose members had composed the instrumental track. The lyrics were added by a college student named John Carter who was invited to be at the session. Thee Sixpence resented someone putting words to their music and relegated the song to the status of an afterthought so they didn’t bother to protest when Carter said their lead singer wasn’t right for the song. Carter picked another guy who was there to sing lead. The next day, that guy was gone and when asked what happened to him, the band members said he was just someone who happened to be there that day and he wasn’t part of the group. Since they didn’t think much of the song in the first place, his vocals were left in place. When a couple of their songs were released on a small label, they looked in Billboard magazine and discovered two other bands with similar “sixpence” names. So they turned the page and closed their eyes and pointed to a random spot. A finger landed on a Beatles’ song. It was Strawberry Fields Forever and that pointed them in the direction of the name they would use when the song they didn’t care for arrived at number one. It was this week in November, 1967. And when they made appearances to support the song, the lead vocal was performed by their drummer who sounded the most like the anonymous guy whose voice is actually on the record. And by the way, he played the bongos with his hands on fire. Go figure – it’s the Strawberry Alarm Clock and “Incense and Peppermints.”
Friday, November 21st, 2014 by Mike McKay
November 21, 2014: The 101 song of the day was written and performed by a guy who once got Kris Kristofferson a job – as a janitor.
He’d been working at the Columbia Records’ studio in Nashville trying to get some of the songs he’d written recorded and while there he did odd jobs including mopping the floor and cleaning bathrooms. He started to move up a bit and passed his janitorial duties onto a fellow struggling songwriter and Rhodes Scholar Kris Kristofferson. Kris didn’t hold that job too long and when he made it big, he asked today’s featured artist to join his band. Later, when he got married, Kris and Rita Coolidge bought him a little organ on which he wrote the song that put his own name up in lights and arrived at number one this week in November, 1974 – His name is Billy Swan and here’s your 101 number one song of the day (I Can Help)
Thursday, November 20th, 2014 by Mike McKay
November 20, 2014: The 101 number one song of the day won an Oscar for its creator but what he really wanted was the lead role in the movie for which it was written.
He was invited by MGM executives to discuss a novel they had acquired. He thought he was being interviewed to star in the movie but during their meeting he agreed to write the score for the film about a black action hero. Instead, a few weeks later he was informed that actor Richard Roundtree had been cast in the role. Although disappointed, he had already committed himself to writing the music, so he fulfilled his obligation. It would go on to win an academy award for best song but by then it had already risen to number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 where it was on November 20, 1971 – Isaac Hayes (Shaft)
Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 by Mike McKay
November 19, 2014: The 101 number one song of the day was written for a movie and performed as a duet by two individuals who had never met until they walked into the studio to record and it went on to win an Oscar.
One half of the duet – who had previously recorded an Academy Award winning song for the movie Norma Rae – was initially rejected for the project because the director thought she sounded too “sweet” but when it was suggested that she pair with a raspy voiced rocker from England – they were given the go ahead. The movie in question was “An Officer and a Gentleman” and it was the number one song in America on November 19th 1982 for Jennifer Warnes and Joe Cocker – Up Where We Belong
Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 by Mike McKay
November 18, 2014: The 101 number one song of the day established a group with a reputation for “flops” as their legendary record label’s go to girls.
Four months earlier, they were known as the “No Hits” because of a succession of songs that went nowhere. But suddenly they had a number one hit which was not at all unprecedented at Motown but until the time, no one who recorded for the that company was able to repeat that feat. But with the arrival of the song you’re about at the top of the charts, they had a second number one song making them the first in an incredible stable of artists and placing them squarely in the forefront. And that brings us to the 101 number one song of the day which was on top on November 18, 1964 for the Supremes. (Baby Love)
Monday, November 17th, 2014 by Mike McKay
November 17, 2014: The 101 number one song of the day was written and performed by the first Beatle to record a solo single but he was the last to have a number one hit on his own.
Actually, he wasn’t completely on his own because Elton John played piano and organ and sang backing vocals on the record. Elton was sure it was going to be a number one song but the former Beatle was convinced otherwise, saying, “It would be nice but I’m out of favor here.” He was referring to the U.S. Elton bet him it would get to the top saying if it got to the top, he’d have to appear in concert with him. It was number one on November 17, 1974 and within two weeks he walked on stage at New York’s Madison Square Garden to keep his end of the bargain. Here’s today’s 101 number one song of the day for – John Lennon – “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night”
Friday, November 14th, 2014 by Mike McKay
November 14, 2014: The 101 number one song of the day was a one hit wonder by a guy who, in actuality, had a whole string of hits. How can that be?
It was recorded by a man who had lots of success recording other people’s compositions and covering songs that were already hits for someone else. He had so much success, in fact, that he was afraid to record something he had written himself but eventually he took the gamble and it not only became the only hit he ever wrote himself, it became his biggest hit ever and his only charttopper. And on November 14, 1966 it was the number one song in the land – for Johnny Rivers – “Poor Side of Town.”